Lessons From a Clematis

I gaze out my back picture window and there stands my President Clematis in full bloom and in full glory. It’s abundant, large purple flowers stand tall and gaze heavenward. Now that’s the way a plant is supposed to look! But it didn’t get that way overnight. No, my clematis took a few years, six to be exact, before I saw such beauty.

I first purchased my clematis as a seed at Home Depot. I planted it too late that year and so saw nothing the first season.

The following spring one small shoot came out of the ground. When it reached the hefty height of about ten inches, its life was abruptly cut off by one of the pesky critters in my yard (squirrels, rabbits and chipmunks). Not realizing my clematis would make a tasty breakfast, I had not protected it. The decapitation was too much for the newbie. Blooms would have to wait.

The third season, I protectively put a small wire fence around the vine as it emerged from the ground in the spring. It worked hard that year and grew considerably but blooms were scarce.

The fourth season would have been great if I had done my homework and read up on how to care for this particular kind of clematis. Without thinking and because I had seen other gardeners pruning their clematis, I got out my shears and began hacking away at the previous year’s growth. Just as soon as I had snipped off a significant number of vines, I saw the tiny growth of new leaves and the now lifeless branches. Yikes! I had destroyed half of the potential vines I could have had that year. I had to be satisfied with the new shoots (and blooms) that sprang up from the earth.

So, the fifth season of my clematis’ life, I left it alone, bought a larger frame for it to ascend and watched it take off for the first time. New shoots as well as new growth on old vines wound round my clothes line and up over the top. Buds began to form. I waited for the purple flowers to emerge only to discover something (or someone) was snapping off the buds before they could bloom. After dousing the vine with bug spray, I was rewarded with a breathtaking display of purple splendor.

And so it is again this year. Even more growth and more blooms. I am enjoying the fruits of waiting. Waiting for natural growth, and waiting to correct my blunders as a caretaker of this beautiful creation.

So why am I telling you this story of my clematis? As I gaze at it this morning, I am reminded again of my own spiritual growth and that of those I love. It takes time! We have to wait for so many things—for the right timing and for good growing conditions. We have to protect new life from critters and bugs—the cares of life, the worries of the world, the lies of the enemy. We have to read the instruction manual—the Bible—and figure out how to care for our growth. We can’t just look at other believers and copy them without first checking to see if the manual agrees. And we have to wait for God to cause the growth.

But the beauty will come! With time, proper attention, nutrition and care, our lives will bloom! So I look at my clematis and rejoice that no matter the stage of the journey, I will see growth in my life and in those I love. I am confident that God will complete the good work that He has begun in us (Philippians 1:6).

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